By Ben R. Rosario
As the House of Representatives moved to expedite the Charter change (Cha-cha) process, supporters for the shift to a federal form of government are making a huge push for the proposal in Quezon City.
Up to 20,000 to 25,000 pro-federalism delegates will gather tomorrow at the Quezon City Circle to be spearheaded by the IConform-Federal Phils. which has declared that a shift to federal system will “right the historical inequities and injustice that have been perpetuated in a unitary and highly centralized government.”
Headed by Secretary Raul L. Lambino as lead convenor, the IConform Federal is a coalition of diverse multi-sectoral groups supporting federalism.
The federalism movement has won strong backing in the Lower House which has been deliberating on proposals to revise the 1987 Constitution, including the proposed shift to a federal system of government.
“This is clearly a choice of our long-suffering people. We can no longer delay its coming,” said Lambino, a long-time advocate of federalism.
He lauded the leadership of the Lower House for swiftly responding to the call for Cha-cha and for seriously considering the federalism proposal.
Several members of Congress and local officials are expected to speak during the rally.
The two known authorities in the proposed shift away from the unitary system, former Chief Justice Reynato Puno and former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. have been invited to speak at tomorrow’s rally.
“It is because our entire experience with a highly centralized system has created two nations in our country — a nation of the ‘haves,’ which is the super-rich tip of the economic pyramid, and a nation of the ‘have-nots,’ which is its impoverished base that has suffered from decades of government inaction and neglect,” said Lambino.
He added: “The shift to a Federal form is about making the lives of millions of Filipinos better.”
IConform-Federal Phils. predicts that at the pace it is gathering mass support for the Federal form, the movement will reach a critical peak faster than could be expected, because, it said, “people who have welcomed change are going to embrace it, too.”
Opponents of Federalism, IConform-Federal Phils. said in a statement, have resorted to empty sloganeering trying to defend the economic and political infrastructure of the old elite.
“We see their ranks, and they are the defenders of the privileged and the wealthy,” the movement said.
Lambino also pointed out the other benefits under a Federal format.
He said at least five major Federal states could be created to make them economically viable and to encourage wider competition for electoral positions, thus dampening ambitions of family political dynasties.
He said that with fewer Federal states, a smoother but competitive redistribution of economic and political power within the nation could be followed in the transition period.
Turning his attention to Saturday’s rally, he said the diverse sectoral groups are united by the belief that a decentralized system would provide solutions to the Muslims’ historical aspirations and preserve cultural diversity while encouraging competition within a state and among the existing states for excellent economic performance.
IConform-Federal Phils., he said, also believes in President Duterte’s assertion that the nearly half-century war in Mindanao could be prevented from escalating by the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and a Federal government that would strengthen Muslim autonomy.